Nan Zhou

Nan Zhou

Energy/Environmental Policy Senior Scientist/Engineer


Dr. Nan Zhou is a Senior Scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. She has led many international programs at Berkeley Lab on energy efficiency and greenhouse gas mitigation, often focused on China. Dr. Zhou is currently the Technical Program Manager for the Net Zero World Action Center, an initiative launched by the U.S. government to work with countries to implement their climate ambition pledges and accelerate transitions to net zero, resilient, and inclusive energy systems. In addition, Dr. Zhou is a Lead Author of the chapter on Mitigation and Development Pathways of the recently-released Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group III Sixth Assessment Report on Mitigation of Climate Change. Dr. Zhou is a co-chair of the Academic Advisory Committee of California-China Climate Institute and a Senior Scholar at the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at the University of California-Berkeley. Dr. Zhou is one of the two U.S.-designated Advisory Board Members of the Asia Pacific Energy Research Centre under the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and a Council member for Global Future Council of the World Economic Forum. Dr. Zhou served as the Deputy Director (2010-2012) and the Director (2012-2021) of the $100 million presidential bilateral U.S.-China Clean Energy Center-Building Energy Efficiency (CERC-BEE) program. 

She also served as a Lead Author for the chapter on Mitigation and Development Pathways in the Near- to Mid-Term of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report. She received the 2017 R&D100 Award for the BEST City tool, 2020 R&D100 Award for the BETTER tool,  and is the finalist for 2016 C3E Awards for mid-career women’s leadership and achievement. Dr. Zhou was also the Co-Chair of 2016 Buildings Summer Study of American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) .

As the U.S. Director of CERC-BEE, Dr. Zhou led the team involving many researchers from different national laboratories (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory), universities (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of California Davis), and industry partners such as Dow Chemical, DuPont, BASF, Johnson Controls, and Schneider. Under her leadership of this complex, dynamic program, the team has had notable achievements in building energy efficiency and the construction industry and has earned awards for numerous technological breakthroughs and innovations. The team has produced 17 new products, 20 new copyrighted software tools, and 84 peer-reviewed publications to advance building energy performance. The team has been awarded R&D 100 Awards in 2013 and 2016, a 2016 Gold Edison Award, a 2018 Best of Design Award for Digital Fabrication, and a 2019 Keeling Curve Prize Honorable Mention. 

Dr. Zhou’s expertise includes integrated energy system and emission modeling, energy efficiency for end use sectors in buildings, appliances, industry and transport; and on microgrids/distributed energy resources as well as low carbon/smart city development. Prior to Berkeley Lab, she was an assistant professor in two universities in Japan for four years. She has more than 280 publications, including ones published in Nature Energy and Nature Communications.


2020 R&D 100 Award: BETTER Tool -  October 5th 2020

Building Efficiency Targeting Tool for Energy Retrofits (BETTER)

The buildings sector is the largest source of primary energy consumption (40%) and ranks second after the industrial sector as a global source of direct and indirect carbon dioxide emissions from fuel combustion. According to the World Economic Forum, nearly one-half of all energy consumed by buildings could be avoided with new energy-efficient systems and equipment.

The Building Efficiency Targeting Tool for Energy Retrofits (BETTER) allows municipalities, building and portfolio owners and managers, and energy service providers to quickly and easily identify the most effective cost-saving and energy-efficiency measures in their buildings. With an open-source, data-driven analytical engine, BETTER uses readily available building and monthly energy data to quantify energy, cost, and greenhouse gas reduction potential, and to recommend efficiency interventions at the building and portfolio levels to capture that potential.

It is estimated that BETTER will help reduce about 165.8 megatons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) globally by 2030. This is equivalent to the CO2 sequestered by growing 2.7 billion tree seedlings for 10 years.

The development team includes Berkeley Lab scientists Nan Zhou, Carolyn Szum, Han Li, Chao Ding, Xu Liu, and William Huang, along with collaborators from Johnson Controls and ICF.


2020 Tech Transfer Award: BETTER Team -  September 29th 2020

2020 Director’s Awards for Exceptional Achievement, Tech Transfer

In recognition of the exemplary efforts of Carolyn Szum, Chao Ding, Nan Zhou, Xu Liu, Han Li to build important relationships with industry to advance the science of data-driven, remote building energy analysis to improve building energy efficiency at speed and scale worldwide.

Applied Energy Outstanding Research and Contribution Prize -  April 1st 2019

Outstanding Research and Contribution Prize for a publication in Applied Energy entitled “A roadmap for China to peak carbon dioxide emissions and achieve a 20% share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy by 2030”

2017 R&D 100 Award: Benchmarking and Energy Saving Tool for Low-Carbon Cities (BEST Cities) -  November 20th 2017

The Benchmarking and Energy Saving Tool for Low-Carbon Cities (BEST Cities) provides a rapidly deployable tool to use for low-carbon planning, especially in China. This integrated, computer-based software helps local policymakers and urban planners quickly assess their city's energy use and related emissions, compare their low-carbon performance to similar cities and develop and prioritize a low-carbon development plan with strategies that reduce city CO2 and methane (CH4) emissions. BEST Cities assesses local energy use and energy-related CO2 and CH4 emissions from nine economic sectors—industry, public and commercial buildings, residential buildings, transportation, production of power and heat, street lighting, water and wastewater, solid waste, and urban green space—giving officials a comprehensive perspective on their energy and carbon inventory. The tool benchmarks 35 indicators of energy and emissions performance with other cities inside and outside of China and prioritizes sectors with the greatest energy-saving and emissions-reduction potential. Beta-testing was provided by Shandong Academy of Sciences. The technology was based on model originally developed by ESMAP known as TRACE, the Tool for the Rapid Assessment of City Energy.

Journal and Editorial Board Memberships

Advances in Applied Energy, Editorial Board Member
Applied Energy, Editorial Board Member